Art Toombs Ministries 

Online Bible Commentary

Five Christian Traits
Philippians 2:19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly. 25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; 26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; 30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me. (NKJV)





Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Philippi in Macedonia, which is now northern Greece. It is thought that he wrote this during his first Roman imprisonment when he was under house arrest.

The time of the writing is about 62 A.D. Epaphroditus visited him in prison and Paul sent this letter back with him to deliver it to the church.

At the time of Paul’s letter, Philippi was a principal city. Paul established the church on his second missionary journey.

Philippi was abandoned in the fourteenth century after the Ottoman conquest. The current city of Fillipoi is located near the ruins of Philippi.

The church at Philippi was the first known church in all of Europe and it supported Paul financially. In many ways it was a model church.

Paul begins this passage by writing “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state” (v. 19). Paul is trusting in the Lord that he will soon be able to send Timothy to the church at Philippi.

Timothy is currently helping Paul in Rome. As soon as he can spare Timothy, Paul would like to send him to Philippi to check on the church. He is confident that he will “be encouraged” by the “state” of things there.

Next, Paul describes Timothy’s credentials. He writes “20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.” (vv. 21-22).

Paul lists five Christian traits of Timothy to which we all should ascribe:

1. He is “like-minded” (v. 20a). He thinks as does Paul. He has a heart for the ministry.

2. He “sincerely cares” (v. 20b). Paul has no one else who will “sincerely care” for the “state” of the church in Philippi.

3. He puts God first (v. 21). Some others care more for their own earthly pursuits than the “things“ of Christ.

4. He exhibits “proven character” (v. 22a), the character of God.  

5. He exhibits “proven service” (v. 22b). Timothy has a track record of serving God.

Here, Paul refers to Timothy as “a son”, the son he never had (v. 22b). Timothy’s devotion to God rivals that of Paul.

Paul continues the text “Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me” (v. 23). He hopes to send Timothy “at once”, depending on “how it goes” with his appeal to Nero to be released from house arrest. He would have less dependence on Timothy if he was released.

Paul writes “But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly” (v. 24). Paul is anticipating his release and wishes to visit the church in Philippi. He was released soon hereafter, only to be imprisoned and beheaded by Nero a few years later.

Paul continues this letter by writing of another faithful servant, Epaphroditus. He writes “Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus” (v. 25a).

He is sending this letter to Philippi in the care of Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus had come to Paul in Rome from the church at Philippi bringing gifts and assistance to Paul.

This may be the same person as Epaphras, who was associated with the church at Colossae and who had delivered Paul’s letter to the Colossians. The name Epaphras is a shortened version of Epaphroditus. However, it also may not be the same person since Paul is calling him by two different names in two letters that he wrote within a year of each other.

Paul continues the text by describing Epaphroditus as “my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier” (v. 25b). Epaphroditus is referred to here as Paul’s “brother” in Christ, denoting Christian affection. He is also described as a “fellow worker”, denoting sharing the work of the Gospel, and a “fellow soldier”, denoting sharing in the conflict, as Paul.

Paul writes “but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need” (v. 25c). This is a reference to Epaphroditus being a messenger from the church at Philippi and to his ministry to Paul.

Next, Paul writes of a difficulty that Epaphroditus encountered on his journey to Rome. He writes “since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick” (v. 26).

Epaphroditus had become “sick” on his journey. He also was “distressed” that the church had somehow learned of his sickness, not wanting to concern them with his difficulty. He is also “longing” to be back with his church friends.

Next, Paul describes the sickness in more detail. He writes “For indeed he was sick almost unto death” (v. 27a). As much as Epaphroditus wanted to downplay his sickness, this was no minor sickness.

Paul writes “but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow” (v. 27b). God, in His mercy, healed Epaphroditus. This was also healing to Paul by not grieving him even more than he was already grieving over his house arrest.

Paul continues “Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful” (v. 28). Paul wanted to dispatch Epaphroditus as soon as possible in order that the church could soon “rejoice” in his return, which also would relieve Paul’s sorrow.

In conclusion, Paul writes “29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; 30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me” (vv. 29-30).

He is exhorting them to receive Epaphroditus “with all gladness” and high “esteem”. His service to the Lord had brought him close to death, but Epaphroditus disregarded his own safety in order to minister to Paul on behalf of the church..